Will 'The Terminator' be back? Sci-fi franchise could sell for $200 million

For sale: One slightly-used Terminator. Still works, minor attitude problems, get it cheap now!

Have you ever wanted your own Terminator -- a T1000 perhaps? With enough cash, you could own the rights to future projects bearing the Terminator name. That's right, the blockbuster sci-fi franchise that brought us Arnold's "I'll be back," Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor, and a grim view of a future in which humans are subject to machines, is for sale. The franchise auction will be a closely-watched barometer of the entertainment market at a time that the broader economy is showing fitful signs of returning to life.
Beginning in the 1980s, the Terminator series portrayed the efforts of a lethal corps of cyborgs sent back from the future to kill John Connor, who would become the leader of the human resistance after machines -- controlled by a malevolent network called Skynet -- took control of Earth in a nuclear war.

The rights to the franchise are being sold by Halcyon Company, the production company behind Terminator Salvation, the latest iteration in the series, which grossed $380 million worldwide. The two most recent films failed to garner the acclaim of the first two films, which struck a chord with many fans who saw the series as a metaphor for humanity's increasing reliance on computers and technology.

The Terminator auction comes three weeks after the rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were sold for $60 million. The Terminator franchise, which does not include rights to the first two films, is expected to fetch as much as three times that, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the news.

The films depicted a dystopian future in which an artificial-intelligence network called Skynet had become self-aware, initiated a nuclear holocaust that wiped out most of mankind, and then taken control and dominion of the survivors. The use of time-traveling cyborgs to alter the course of history gave the series its mind-twisting quality, and the enduring faith in human agency to rebuild the future attracted a wide and devoted following, even in a cluttered field field of sci-fi competitors like The Matrix trilogy.

Brought to life by uber-director James Cameron, who is about to unleash the ambitious computer-animated tech-spectacle Avatar on the public, the first two Terminator films were pitch-perfect personifications of society's moody ambivalence toward increasingly advanced technology.

All the big film studios have expressed interest in the Terminator sale, with Sony Pictures a leading contender. Other interested bidders include Platinum Equity, the Beverly Hills firm that owns Delphi, the auto parts maker. Summit Entertainment, the company behind the Twilight series, is interested, as is Media Rights Capital, which produced Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno, the Financial Times added.

Halcyon recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after a dispute with Pacificor, a Santa Barbara-based hedge fund that lent Halcyon funds to purchase the Terminator rights; the sale is being conducted by FTI Capital Advisors. Halcyon bought the franchise from longtime Terminator producer Mario Kassar for $25 million two years ago.

In December 2008, the original Terminator film, released in 1984, was added to the National Film Registry as one of 25 films that will be preserved to help "understand the diversity of America's film heritage."
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